Although recovery is an integral part of the substance abuse treatment process, the concept itself isn’t tied to a single event or specific point along the journey from abstinence to lasting sobriety.
The recovery journey begins when you make the decision to stop drinking alcohol. Recovery continues through each stage of your sobriety, so essentially, it doesn’t have an end. Though your journey may follow a somewhat unique path, some important elements of your recovery may include:
- Mutual support from others in recovery.
- Hope and the possibility for a better future.
- A holistic approach that incorporates aspects of your entire life, including community, mind, body, and spirit.
- Taking responsibility for your recovery by making informed decisions.
- Constant growth from meeting challenges and learning from those challenges.
Alcohol Recovery Treatment
Treatment plans may be tailored to your unique recovery needs. Keep in mind, the timeline of recovery can vary from person to person.
Within the first few days after you quit drinking, you may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Because of certain symptoms and potential complications, acute alcohol withdrawal can in some instances be dangerous. Because of these risks, many undergo alcohol detox and withdrawal management under professional medical care. In a medical detox setting, treatment professionals can provide you with medication to keep you as safe and comfortable as possible during the withdrawal process.
After detox, you may transition to transition to inpatient/residential treatment program. or choose an outpatient treatment program. It is important to know there are several different treatment options and levels of care. Choosing the right option for you will depend on a variety of factors, such as your medical history and other conditions to determine the appropriate placement.
It is important to note that relapse is a part of recovery. Because recovery is a process of personal growth in which each stage has its own risks of relapse, treatment can offer an approach to reduce the risk of relapse.
Is Treatment Necessary for Recovery?
Research indicates that getting support from trained addiction and medical professionals during treatment can improve your success in recovery.
Furthermore, counseling programs and education equip people with tools, resources, and life skills to thrive in recovery. With a range of support and care being provided, comprehensive treatment is designed to:
- Help you gain control over your life.
- Help you to quit drinking (and/or stop using drugs).
- Resume a productive life.
- Help you change deeply rooted behaviors.
- Reduce physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms.
- Make it easier to stop using drugs and alcohol through medication and other interventions.
Considering Getting Help for Alcoholism?
Here are some links that can teach you more and help you get started.
Rules of Recovery
Recovery isn’t just abstinence from alcohol; more specifically, recovery is a process of change, where you strive to reach your full potential. According to Addiction Medicine Physician Steven Melemis, a set of rules helped his patients to understand recovery is not beyond their control. The five basic rules are:
- Change Your Life—Effective recovery requires you to make changes in your life that make it easier for you to sustain sobriety and not relapse on drugs and alcohol. This can include changing the way you think and minimizing/eliminating your exposure to people, places, and things you associate with drug and alcohol use.
- Honesty—Recovery is based on your willingness to be honest and vulnerable and admit mistakes you’ve made throughout your addiction.
- Ask for help—Trying to live a life in recovery requires assistance and support. Asking for help in recovery requires an acknowledgment that you are powerless over your addiction.
- Practice self-care—Learning how to meet your needs and care for yourself so that you feel less of a need to use substances to relax or unwind.
- Don’t bend the rules—Follow the treatment plan and guidance given by addiction professionals, doctors, therapists, and peers who have sustained recovery. Let go of the idea that you can do it “your way.”
Does Recovery Mean Total Abstinence?
Past research in the field of substance use disorders has supported total abstinence as an effective means of reduced relapse risk and sustaining recovery. However, it is important to note, that recovery journeys will look different for everyone. Though abstinence is an important element, relapses do occur but don’t need to signal the end of recovery.
Ultimately, receiving treatment, committing to your recovery, and ongoing sobriety can improve your chances of success
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). About recovery.
- American Psychological Association. (2012). Recovery principles.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. (n.d.). Substance abuse treatment: Group therapy.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Drugs, brains, and behavior: The science of addiction – Treatment and recovery.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Workplace supported recovery program.
- Melemis, S.M. (2015). Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery. The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. 88(3), 325-332.
- National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Understanding drug use and addiction drug facts.
- Laudet, A.B. (2007). What does recovery mean to you? Lessons from the recovery experience for research and practice. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 33(3), 243-256.